Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summer Review

We went out for bike rides fairly often this summer. Sonny D has a "tagalong" tandem bike (yay Craigslist!) and I finally got a good bike with multiple speeds (yay garage sale!). 

The coffee station is done and installed. Love it. 

Sonny D went to a birthday party at be bowling alley, it was his first time bowling. So cute!

We drove to Door County (like Cape Cod of the upper Midwest).  Here I am modeling our stick-on mustaches that were part of our car entertainment from the dollar store. 

Sonny D grabbing candy at a parade in Door County. 

Going to the local ag fair with grandma and grandpa. Cows are big and scary, so grandpa had to carry Sonny D. 

Favorite summer dish, sliced strawberries with granola and a touch of French vanilla non-dairy creamer. I ate this about 2 times per day. 

I hosted a non-dairy cheese class at our house, this is my friend Heather adding herbs to our tasty cashew cheese. Everything we made was so delicious! 

Husband Jeff and I went to the state fair with our friends Dustin & Jessica to see the band Boston. It rocked!

Husband Jeff made a Little Free Library and installed it at Sonny D's preschool. 

I investigated fermented/cultured vegan nut cheese, the process involves sprouting a seed or grain and then creating a fermented liquid (called rejuvelac) from the sprouted grain. And THEN you can finally make the nut cheese and age it using the fermented liquid. So many steps! I sprouted brown rice to make my rejuvelac.

Met up with Biz from My Bizzy Kitchen and some of her readers. We wandered around the huge downtown farmers' market here in Madison and then had lunch. Here's Biz getting in on a photo. 

I combined tomatoes from my mom's garden and a few big heirlooms from the farmers' market to make marinara to freeze. It made three meals' worth.  

I found I really like paleo Waldorf salad - homemade mayo, diced celery, diced apple, chopped walnuts, salt and pepper. Here's a shot from SnapChat. 

I made avgolemono, a Greek lemon and egg soup. I added rice and diced chicken.  I'll definitely make it again. I liked the richness from the egg. 

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Porridge for Biz

This past weekend I met up with Biz from My Bizzy Kitchen and a few of her blog readers. (Read about our day on her August 24 blog post.)   I mentioned to Biz that I've been making a quinoa porridge for breakfast, so I thought I would share the recipe here for everyone else as well.  I use quinoa because I want more protein so I stay full all morning.  It's working pretty well but occasionally I add some nuts or seeds, like pumpkin or sunflower seeds. 
  • 1 c. quinoa 
  • 1/2 c. buckwheat or any other grain/legume
  • 1/3 c. hemp seeds    
  • 1/4 c. ground flax seed
  • 3 Tb. chia seeds
  • 5 cups water
  • seasoning - couple tablespoons of cocoa powder, heavy sprinkle of cinnamon, etc.
I put everything in my small slow cooker (6 qt) and let it cook overnight.  In the morning I divide it up into 6 portions.  It makes large portions, which I love.  I typically add some fruit, lately it has been a couple of plums diced up. 
I really don't like the flavor of quinoa, so I prefer to cover it with a strong seasoning.  Cocoa powder is a good way to do that.  I've also tried adding red lentils, but it ends up too "bean-y".  Bleh.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Menu Plan: Week of May 18 - Whole30 Detox, Week 4

So I was really lazy last week and didn't do a menu plan post.  I did have a menu plan though.  The highlights are
  • We ate fish (Sonny D loves fish!).   
  • I made a huge batch of beef stew that we ate for several days, including for my breakfast with a poached egg on top.  
  • I went to Dubuque to visit my friend Renae.  I showed her how easy it is to make homemade mayonnaise and she immediately requested a second batch, which she turned into an awesome tartar sauce. 
  • We made it through the week without a breakfast egg dish.  We ate leftovers for breakfast and made whatever sounded good, but it's a little too much work to have to cook something up to eat every morning.  

Whole30 Cleanse/Detox

This is the fourth week of our detox.  So far we've
  • Learned - Jeff loves half an avocado for breakfast and he wants to continue that even after the detox.  I think sweet potatoes are great, I rarely ate them prior to the cleanse but I think I'll have them on hand in the future for a simple add-on for a meal.  Also, homemade mayo is amazing, I eat it with pretty much everything.
  • Noticed - that I need less protein as the day goes on.  If I don't eat a big breakfast full of protein and fat I end up hungry by mid-morning, but for dinner I barely need any protein to sustain myself until morning. I've also noticed I have reduced my "love handles" and my tummy is less jiggly. 
  • Been Frustrated By - not being able to eat a lot of fruit.  We're supposed to limit the amount of fruit we eat to break our sugar habit, but fruit is so easy -- it doesn't need much prep (maybe peel it) and doesn't need to be cooked.  
  • Loved - avocado with as many meals as possible, taco salads.  I've cooked up taco meat three of the four weeks, I portion it out into jars so Jeff can grab one and some salad greens and take them to work.  
  • Had a Hard Time With - different locations.  At home things are figured out for us, but our old habits come to the surface when we're somewhere else like the in-laws house for dinner.  This weekend I also ate at Renae's house and our friends' Brian & Kristen's house and I feel like I have to be so careful so I don't accidentally eat something I shouldn't. 
  • Been Surprised By - How we sleep much more soundly.  But also surprised by a lack of good side effects.  We're supposed to have lots of energy (they call it "tiger blood") and that's not happening yet.  Jeff actually reports being tired more often.  I'm surprised that I haven't had any dreams about food.  I actually don't dream about food when I sleep, but I do think about it all day.  :)  I was already eating foods that were pretty consistent with the Whole30 way of thinking (less carbs, lean protein, veggies, etc.) so maybe my body didn't really need to do much adjusting. 
  • Had to Readjust - We were eating WAY too much nut butter and fruit in the beginning.  We were eating both of them together to substitute for dessert, which we don't actually have anyway, but we do eat fruit with most meals.  I stopped buying so much fruit and I haven't really had nut butter since week 2.  
  • Been Planning - all of the decadent treats I want to make/eat when we're done with the detox.  I listen to the America's Test Kitchen radio podcast and they've mentioned several things that sound great, like chocolate French silk pie and oatmeal fudge bars.  It's usually really rare that I even make desserts.  Oh, and I'm planning to have a doughnut when I'm done with this whole thing.  It's been so hard to be completely denied any sweets/desserts. 
This week we're supposedly hitting the stage where we're bored with Whole30, sick of our food choices and ready to be done.  I think I've done a pretty good job with a lot of variety for our meals, but I am certainly done eating so much beef and chicken.  I really don't like meat this much. 

Next week will be the end of our detox but I'm definitely going to do the gradual reintroduction of foods to see if I have any reactions to them.  I don't think I will have any issues, but you never know unless you try it out. 

Meal Plan

I made a breakfast egg casserole for the week, this time taco meat with bell pepper, tomatoes, chiles, and spinach.  

My lunches are going to be salads this week using my homemade mayo - I've already made chicken salad and will make another batch with the couple of cooked chicken breasts hanging out in the fridge.  Then next up will be egg salad because I make a dozen hard-boiled eggs every week.  And then tuna salad.  

Jeff's lunches will be taco salads, so good and so easy.  He found out today that a hard-boiled egg and a can of beets do not equal a lunch.  A few hours later he went to the grocery store to buy something more to eat because he didn't have anything else.  He found out most snack nuts are roasted with oils we can't eat, but eventually found something.  Maybe now he sees the beauty of a well-packed lunch (and appreciates what I do for him!).

  • Monday - We had grilled sirloin tip steak, fajita veggies (grilled peppers and onions), and cauliflower rice
  • Tuesday - Grandma and grandpa pick up Sonny D and Husband Jeff and I go to Zumba, so no real dinner but hard-boiled eggs and nuts.  It's actually the perfect amount of protein and fat before class.  After class we'll have some lean protein, last week I cut up chicken breast and we chowed it on the way home to get Sonny D.  
  • Wednesday - Indian night with butter chicken and a package of Punjab eggplant and more cauliflower rice.
  • Thursday - Greek bison kofta (ground meat on a stick) and some veggies.
  • Friday - In the morning I'm going to my step-brother's graduation and in the afternoon I'm visiting my online friend Biz (from My Bizzy Kitchen) in real life when she comes to Milwaukee to do the Spartan adventure race.  So I'm leaving Husband Jeff and Sonny D for yet another Friday.  This time I'm planning they'll have frozen Trader Joe's chile-lime chicken burgers and a bag of steamable broccoli.  I'm
  • Saturday - Core Fusion exercise class in the morning and Sonny D has swimming after that.  I think we'll have lime shrimp avocado salad for lunch and dinner will be Italian meatball soup or Mediterranean chicken skillet.
  • Sunday - Northside farmers' market! There still isn't much at the market aside from asparagus, rhubarb, onions, and plants.  Oh well, still fun to go.  Last week I spent a ton of money on local grass-fed beef and some fish.  I think for dinner we'll have a lasagna where instead of noodles it uses zucchini and instead of cheese it's ground cashews.  I know it doesn't sound too amazing, but the recipe had a lot of good reviews.  It'll be a nice change of pace. 
I keep forgetting that this weekend is Memorial Day.  We don't have any plans at all. 

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ready In Seconds, Seriously! Homemade Mayo

I've had some people (particularly my friend John) interested in my homemade mayonnaise I've been using for our Whole30 cleanse so I made a quick video to share with you.

I follow the Everyday Maven mayo recipe because it has instructions for using an immersion blender, which gives amazing results pretty much every time.  And as you can see in the video, it's pretty much instant! 

Please forgive the shortness of the video, I recorded it with my phone and it tipped over before I was finished because of the immersion blender's vibrations on the countertop.  But as you can see, it turned to mayo in just a few seconds.  All I did to finish was to bring the immersion blender up to incorporate the oil sitting on top.  So quick! 

The most important thing to do is to use LIGHT olive oil.  Regular extra virgin olive oil is to olive-y and strong, what you need is a really light oil so it doesn't give too much flavor.   I would recommend a touch less salt, this was my first time using the Himalayan pink salt and this batch turned out a little more salty than expected.  If you're following Whole30, you should use plain mustard or mustard powder because Dijon mustard has white wine, which is not Whole30-approved. 

I've read that to make a smaller batch, you use just an egg yolk (save the white for your next omelet) and whatever amount of oil you want, like 1/4 to 1/2 cup.  But I say go for a whole 1 cup batch, this stuff is so good!  I eat it on everything these days. 

And I follow the advice that it lasts longer than one week, in my book it should last for as long as your egg.  I'm also using a farm-fresh egg that I bought at the farmers' market, really good quality. 

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Menu Plan: Week of May 4 - Whole30 Detox, Week 2

Whole30 Cleanse - Week 1

The cleanse is going quite well. The food is no problem, but that comes from lots of research, planning, and preparation.  We did a lot of prep work to have veggies ready to eat.  On the second day I had a bit of headache (as expected) but it was barely anything. They say the second-day headache is directly related to the amount of crap you ate before the cleanse, it's your body working through it. Luckily I'm a pretty healthy eater, I can't imagine what it must feel like for those people who drink several diet Cokes per day and eat fast food regularly. 

Breakfast egg bake - potatoes, peppers, onion, and black olives.
And half an avocado for healthy fat.
Breakfast also looks like this.
Scrambled eggs with mushrooms, spinach, peppers,
sweet potato, and avocado.

More egg bake - chorizo, spinach, tomato, green chile, and black olives.
Mashed avocado on top.

I'm supposed to be aiming for three meals per day to ensure you're eating enough protein and fat and also to make sure you're not having snacks (which tend to be sugary and uncontrolled), but I'm still hungry between meals.  It's getting a little better because I think my body is adjusting.  The hardest thing about being home all the time with nothing to do is that there aren't a whole lot of real distractions to keep you busy. I have lists of random chores that I work through each day, but none of them are actually important or busy enough to ensure I don't get distracted. The best is when I'm out of the house running errands.  

Taco salad for lunch.

Lunch of homemade breakfast sausage and leftover roasted veggies.
I've come to realize how much I usually taste things that I can't have right now - licking my sticky fingers after making a PB sandwich for Sonny D, testing the temperature of his ultra-creamy coffee, checking to see if toast is too crunchy to feed to him (ended up toasting a second time to warm up a leftover piece and it was too toasted/dark).  Just so many habits to break. Like snagging one of his gummy vitamins because they're good. 

Dinner of zucchini noodles with pesto and baked fish.

My attempt at french fries didn't work, too crowded on the baking sheet.
We still ate them!

Homemade BBQ sauce to go with shredded pork.  Turned out great!

Chicken with roasted veggies and sweet potato with cilantro pesto.
Husband Jeff found that his vitamins had soy in them so lucky he was able to switch to a different bottle we already had.

My favorite snack is pork rinds dipped in homemade mayo. Crunchy, creamy, tasty!  Pork rinds are awesome, they don't have any carbs and are less calories than potato chips. And homemade mayo is great!  I used extra-virgin olive oil that has a strong olive taste which is a little overpowering.  I'm glad I got light olive oil for my next batch so it's a little more milk.  I'm the only one who eats the mayo, but that's not a problem, I put it on a lot of things. 

Post-workout snack, pork rinds with mayo!

We've inspired some of our friends to look into what they're eating.  One gal is reading ingredient lists for added sugar and another friend is modifying what he eats to be more focused on protein and veggies without grains or sugar.  

I've found that I'm the only one in the family who eats celery or cucumber.  So sad.  And it's hard to really eat much of either of them if you're not dipping them in yummy hummus (not on the cleanse because it's made from legumes).

I thought I ate pretty healthy but apparently I still have a sugar habit.  I realize that throughout the day I want to occasionally have a little taste of something sweet. I keep trying to tell myself it's because I can't have anything sugary that I want it so much, but I don't feel that way for bread so it must be an addiction.  I definitely know that I was using sugar for a quick burst of energy, before my exercise classes I would have something small and sugary like 3-4 jelly beans. And we've definitely been substituting fruit for sugar, we've eaten four container of strawberries in just one week and two each of blackberries and raspberries.  We put almond butter or sunflower butter on them as a dessert.  I'm going to try to reduce the amount of fruit this week.   

I'm not having coffee during our cleanse since I found that coffee without both cream AND sugar is disgusting.  That's ok though because I don't need it for the caffeine since I drink decaf anyway.  

I thought breakfast would be hard, but we've made a couple big egg casseroles with potatoes and veggies and meat and it's fine.  I don't actually miss my oatmeal and I thought I would have a huge problem with that.  

We've gone through a lot of eggs on this detox, we bought three dozen eggs last Sunday and we needed more eggs before the end of the week.  Eight eggs went in our first egg bake (enough for 4 days) and I also made a dozen hardboiled eggs for supplementing lunches and quick workout protein.   The rest of the eggs went into individual breakfasts after the egg bake was gone and for Sonny D's breakfasts.  This Sunday I bought four dozen eggs and we immediately used a whole dozen to make this week's egg bake.  

We're eating a lot more food, I went grocery shopping several times to supplement what we already had.  But in other ways we're not eating much, like some of the veggies are sticking around a while. 
Zipper dog hanging out resting on my slippered feet at dinner.

Non-Whole30 Stuff

Sonny D loves swimming lessons.  Jeff took him to the pool for open swim on Friday and he had a great time jumping in and diving for the weights.  It's so great to see him work with his swim instructor and be so happy after each activity.  

We found some time on Saturday to start working on my coffee station.  Jeff cut out the boards and I drilled out all of the holes to connect everything.  Only need to glue it together and then screw it together and then paint it! 
Husband Jeff cutting out wood for my coffee station.

I'm using the Kreg jig to make holes for my coffee station.

And I have to declare that Craigslist is great.  I listed a Crate & Barrel rug on Friday and sold it a day later for $200.  And then later that same day we drove out to someone's house and bought a tagalong bike for Sonny D.  It connects to the adult bike and rides along behind like a tandem bike.  The kid can pedal if they want or just hang on and look around.  They went out for their first ride to try it out and I thought they would go around the block and come right back but they were gone for over an hour.  Money well spent!
Husband Jeff and Sonny D heading out on tagalong bike.

Menu Plan

It's Cinco de Mayo on Tuesday so I've got a theme of Mexican food this week.

I'm having a hard time planning veggies for our meals.  We seem to eat a lot of some things and nothing of others.  It's pretty easy to make something with whatever we've got around, either fresh or in the freezer or pantry. I also feel like we're stuck on the same veggies -- green beans, cauliflower, and broccoli.  I need to consult my Whole30 shopping list for some ideas of other things to try. 
  • Monday - Mexican shrimp salads with roasted carrots
  • Tuesday - No dinner because Sonny D goes to grandma & grandpa's and we've got Zumba class.  I'll have a couple hardboiled eggs and a handful of nuts before class.  After class I have some more protein and a sweet potato. 
  • Wednesday - Continuing the Mexican theme with chile con carne.  It's going to be sad since we can't have beans in our chili and that's our favorite part.  But I'm going to upgrade us from regular ground beef to large meaty bites of beef chuck, hopefully that will satisfy us.
  • Thursday - Having leftover chili for dinner before I head out to a board meeting for our Korean adoption group.  I love having leftovers around for minimal effort.   
  • Friday - a quick meal of hot dogs before we head to family fun night at the local rec center.
  • Saturday - I want to hit the plant sale at the local community garden.  I don't know what they'll have, but my garden planning is banking on them having what I need to finish my garden.  I don't have a dinner planned, but I've got a recipe for a Mexican chicken taco soup that uses pumpkin puree and I might make that.  Or if the weather is really nice we'll plan to get something from the meat market and grill out.
  • Sunday -  Heading to the northside farmers' market like usual.  I'm glad it's already going but sad because there isn't much available yet and what is there isn't appealing.  I usually like rhubarb to make a rhubarb cake but we can't have that.  I also make a rhubarb puree for my oatmeal, but not eating that either.  And rhubarb isn't going to be any good without any sugar added.  And I like asparagus, but Husband Jeff doesn't like it much so I can't count on that for a veggie for dinner. 
    It's Mother's Day and we're having a meal with my in-laws.  I said I would come up with a couple things to make, but I haven't done that yet, gotta look at my bookmarks and Pinterest board for inspiration! 

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Menu Plan: Week of April 27 - Whole30 Detox, Week 1

This Monday is when we start our Whole30 detox where we go 30 days without eating grains, legumes/soy, dairy, sugar, or alcohol.  I've had a few worries come to mind when planning for this cleanse.
  • I'm afraid that I am going to have trouble with my breakfast. I was joking about being addicted to oats because I have oatmeal for breakfast every single morning, but I might actually be addicted.  We'll find out.
  • I'm also worried about what to eat before going to Zumba class. I typically have a couple pieces of toast with nut butter on them but bread is not allowed on our cleanse.  I tried a Whole30-approved pre-workout meal of two eggs and a handful of nuts and it worked out fine, so maybe I'll just eat that same exact thing every week.
  • I'm afraid that I won't be able to do it, that I won't be strong enough to last the whole 30 days doing this change. This cleanse is generally pretty close to what I already eat, but occasionally I include a little bit of rice, bread, or pasta or something with sugar in it like a dessert.
  • I'm afraid that I'll eat something without thinking about it, like clean off my son's spoon for him or while I'm packing his lunch in the morning.  It's just a habit to give a taste when packing his lunch, even if I'm not hungry.

Menu Plan for Whole30 Detox, Week 1

I don't know how much we'll eat each day so I've got ideas ready and we can make them as we run out of food.  Snacks aren't really condoned, so I came up with ideas that can supplement our meals since we're just figuring all of this out. 

I bought much larger amounts of things we already buy, like three dozen eggs from the local farmer, 14 bananas since Husband Jeff said he wants to eat bananas a lot, a bag of sweet potatoes, a bag of regular white potatoes, loads of fruits and veggies, etc. 

Prep - clean fruits & veggies, make a dozen hard-boiled eggs, make taco meat for lunch salads, make breakfast casserole

Breakfasts - egg casserole with homemade sausage, roasted veggies, fruit
Lunches - taco salads, leftover meat on top of salads, sweet potatoes
Lunch/meal supplements - apples and bananas with nut butter, some sort of dip with veggies, hard-boiled eggs, olives, monkey salad (banana slices, nuts, coconut flakes, raisins, nut butter)

My favorite random food item that I've found we can eat is pork rinds.  I want to make a creamy cashew dip and we can eat the pork rinds dipped in that.  

  • Monday - The weather is supposed to warm up this week, so grilling out seems like a great option.  We'll grill up a whole package of chicken breasts and any leftovers we'll have on salads for lunch.  We've also got a grill pan, so we'll grill up a bunch of potatoes and veggies too.
  • Tuesday - I've got a massage scheduled, that should be a really nice way to start the week, especially with this cleanse.  Grandma & grandpa are going to pick up Sonny D like usual, so we don't have to worry about dinner for him that night.  I don't know what Husband Jeff will eat for his pre-workout meal, but I'm going to have two eggs and a handful of nuts.  We also need to eat a post-workout meal of protein and carb-dense veggies, so I've got a bag of sweet potatoes waiting for us. 
  • Wednesday - Around lunch time we've got Sonny D's conference at his preschool.  baked fish, spinach pesto (minus cheese) on zucchini boodles, and a frozen California veggie blend.
  • Thursday - Trader Joe's spicy Italian chicken sausage (hot dog for Sonny D), homemade baked sweet potato fries with homemade mayo (which I made on Saturday, amazing!), a half batch of tomato-basil soup.
  • Friday - BBQ pork shoulder roast, some sort of slaw, gold potatoes.  It's Me & D night but I think Husband Jeff is going to take him to the pool for open swim.  Lessons have been going great!
  • Saturday - I've got exercise class in the morning like usual, and Sonny D has his swimming lesson.  We usually let Sonny D pick the lunch place after swimming, but I've warned him that Daddy and I won't be able to go out to eat at restaurants on our special diet, so I think I've convinced him to come home for lunch but we'll still take him out for the requisite post-swimmng ice cream.  For lunch we'll have leftover BBQ and slaw.  Dinner will be grilled burgers and potatoes.
  • Sunday - I recently had to fill out some paperwork and give our dog's birthdate, so I randomly picked a date that worked with the age we estimate him to me.  So I picked May 3, so Zipper will be 2 years old on Sunday.  We'll probably treat the dog in some fun way, maybe make him a special doggie treat.  There's also the MadCity Bazaar (billed as "an urban pop-up flea market") that I'm going to check out and our little northside farmers' market starts up.  Lunch will be a random assortment.  We might have some leftovers from the week we need to eat up but if not, we can have tuna salad, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and fruit.  For dinner we'll grill up a sirloin tip steak and have a frozen Price Edward veggie medley (green beans, yellow beans, and carrots). 

Wanna Chat?

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Whole30 Shopping

Here is a list of things I've already bought to stock our kitchen.  This is certainly not an all-inclusive list of what's available, just what I've bought so far.  

From Target

  • Nestlé pure life sparkling water - we love the any of the flavors
  • Market Pantry raw, tail-off peeled shrimp
  • Pace picante sauce
  • Reese artichoke hearts
  • Taste of Thai coconut milk (full fat)
  • Celestial Seasonings tea (I found a great chocolate caramel flavor on clearance)
  • California olives
  • Sun-Maid dates
  • Archer Farms frozen butternut squash
  • Birds-Eye frozen broccoli

From Aldi


  • Romaine hearts lettuce
  • Multicolored peppers
  • Lemons
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Cilantro
  • Fresh green beans
  • Limes
  • Organic grape tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Mangoes
  • Pears
  • Minneola tangelos


  • Steamable California medley
  • Swai fillets
  • Prince Edward vegetable medley


  • Yellow mustard
  • Roasted red peppers in a jar
  • Diced tomatoes in a can
  • Black olives
  • French green beans in a can
  • Unsweetened dried coconut chunks
  • Sliced beets in a can
  • Decaf coffee
  • Pumpkin purée
  • Organic tomato sauce
  • Any of the regular nuts in the baking area or snack area


  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Unsalted butter (to make ghee)

From Trader Joe's


  • Bananas
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • fresh pineapple spears
  • Grapefruit
  • Hothouse cucumbers
  • Bananas


  • Raw pumpkin seeds
  • Raw mixed nuts
  • Unsalted sunflower seeds
  • Unsweetened dried dark cherries
  • Organic Thompson raisins
  • Hatch green  chile salsa
  • Canned Skipjack tuna
  • Canned albacore tuna
  • 21-seasoning salute spice blend
  • Pitted jumbo Kalamata olives
  • Premade Punjab Indian eggplant dish
  • Dried Turkish apricots unsulfured
  • Black olives
  • whole raw cashews
  • Salsa autentica (red salsa)
  • Raw almonds
  • Kosher dill pickles
  • reamy salted almond butter
  • Capers


  • Spicy Italian chicken sausage
  • Applegate organic beef hotdogs
  • Organic chicken tenders
  • Prosciutto
  • Sliced uncured roast beef lunch meat
  • Smoked wild sockeye salmon


  • Chili lime chicken burgers
  • Frozen turkey burger patties
  • Vera Cruz marinated fish
  • Grass fed Angus strip steak

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Whole30 Cleanse Food Ideas

This post is for my friends Ildi, Heather, and Kristen.  Ildi is curious about what food we'll eat on the cleanse, so I'm sharing that.  Heather and Kristen are both currently gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free, so these ideas fit within their restrictions.  Heather has food intolerances and Kristen is breastfeeding her son who is having digestive issues when she eats those foods.   

Husband Jeff and I are starting the Whole30 cleanse on Monday, April 27.  The cleanse excludes foods that can cause inflammation such as sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, MSG, sulfites, and carrageenan.   I've been preparing a list of food/meal ideas, bookmarks for specific recipes, and food that we can buy that fits in with the program.

Here is my Pinterest board of Whole30 ideas.   I also have over 200 bookmarks of Whole30 recipes.  There is also a recommendation for how to make a balanced Whole30 meal, the short version is a hefty amount of protein (1-2 palm-sized portions) and veggies with a decent amount of fat. 

I mention mayo in these ideas and it would involve making it homemade. 


  • sweet potato hash (sweet potatoes, bell pepper, onion) with fried egg on top
  • southwest egg bake (peppers, onion, taco meat, salsa, black olives, green chiles)
  • pumpkin breakfast pudding (with eggs to make it like a souffle and nuts on top)
  • roasted veggies with fried egg or scrambled on top
  • scrambled egg masala
  • fritattas with leftover roasted veggies


  • lunch meat rolled around avocado
  • riceless sushi with tuna, salmon, shrimp, sweet potato, cucumber, avocado, carrot
  • taco salads
  • any leftover meat from dinner on a salad 
  • avocado and tomato salad
  • tuna salad in cucumber cups
  • egg salad
  • chicken salad


  • meatballs/meatloaf
  • pot roast/beef stew
  • grilled steak
  • burgers
  • chile con carne
  • poached or baked fish
  • ceviche or avocado shrimp salad 
  • fish/shrimp curry
  • shrimp scampi
  • nut crusted fish
  • fish taco lettuce wraps with cumin-lime coleslaw
  • pesto (no parmesan) on fish, chicken, or veggies
  • chicken or steak fajitas without tortillas
  • almond-crusted chicken fingers
  • mustard chicken
  • Mexican chicken soup
  • salsa verde chicken 
  • chicken shawarma 
  •  cauliflower or cashew alfredo sauce (nutritional yeast instead of parmesan) on veggies with chicken
  • BBQ pork shoulder
  • roasted veggies with sausage
  • cauliflower rice (could season with lime and cilantro)
  • zucchini noodles with homemade red sauce
  • baked sweet potato fries with spicy homemade mayo
  • tomato basil soup
  • celery, fennel, bell pepper slaw
  • lots of homemade dressings - vinaigrettes, creamy cashew dressings, mayo dressings, tomato dressing, kalamata olive dressing, etc.


  • nut butter on apple slices, banana, celery, cucumber slices
  • hard-boiled eggs or deviled eggs
  • monkey salad (banana, nuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, raisins, nut butter)
  • smoothie (these are not really recommended but sometimes you gotta bend the rules)
  • romesco dip (roasted red pepper and almonds) with veggies
  • olives
  • unsweetened applesauce
  • deviled eggs
  • savory spiced nuts
  • stuffed dates 
  • grainless granola (dried fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut) to eat as a topping for fruit


  • flavored water (lemon, lime, cucumber, mint, berries)
Let me know if you have any questions or want any specific recipes, I'd love to share with you.

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Less Money: Our Aldi Favorites

This post is for my mom and my friends Rachel and Renae.  All three of them now shop at Aldi.  I convinced my mom to try it and she likes it.  My friend Rachel knew that I went there and she has looked back at my blog posts to see what I've bought.  And Renae and I share our awesome Aldi scores with each other on almost a daily basis. 

I love that the new Aldi I go to is on Bunny Trail road. It just tickles me. I discovered it around Easter, and I thought it was maybe an Easter-related joke on the receipt.  I sing "Here Comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail" every time I go to the store.

I just started buying some housewares at Aldi.  We have a coffee maker at home but husband Jeff drinks regular while Sonny D and I drink decaf so we were always ending up only able to make one type of coffee in the morning. So I bought an insulated carafe so we could make one type of coffee and put it in the carafe and then make another pot of the other type. The packaging shows the Aldi store brand "Crofton", but it's marked Emsa brand on bottom. Emsa is a good brand, their similar carafes are around $20 but the Aldi one I bough was only $10. Nice!  I also picked up a cute $4 rag rug for the spot between our garage door and the basement because Husband Jeff makes frequent trips between the garage and the basement when he's doing woodworking projects.

I also love how Aldi is a small store, they don't always have everything I want but I can be in and out really quickly.

On to our favorite things...

These are not really in any order.  I took pictures as I walked around the store, so that's the only order to any of this.

In addition to all of these items, I also love that I can get organic items at Aldi.  I recently bought organic steel-cut oats and there are quite a few other items you can occasionally find. 

The SimplyNature hot salsa is really good, but the medium one is sweet and not spicy at all.  Get the hot stuff!
Hot organic salsa

The Southern Grove retreat trail mix is really good, not too sweet and a little salty.  Only almonds, chocolate chunks and cashews. 
trail mix, for all the non-hiking I do. 

We go through a lot of peanut butter, we buy the creamy stuff in the biggest size they've got, and we usually need a new one every other month. 
Creamy peanut butter all the way!

I like this SimplyNature almond butter.  I don't think it's the best price around since I bought a larger jar of organic almond butter at a different store for not too much more, but it's yummy.  And not thin and runny.  I like that they have more unusual/non-standard things like this at Aldi so I don't have to go elsewhere for them. 
Pre-Zumba workout food, almond butter on toast.

I love Millville multigrain crispy oats!   It's less sweet than multigrain Cheerios and they seem a little crunchier. 
Just add milk!

They have really good nuts in their baking section -- walnuts, almonds, and pecans in various forms.  No salt or anything on them.  I put them in my oatmeal and throw handfuls into my pesto. 
I'm nuts for their nuts!

I picked up this tomatoes, okra, and corn blend on a whim and was pleasantly surprised.  I don't remember if Sonny D and Husband Jeff ate it, but I recently picked up another can because I liked it. 
Tomatoes, okra, and corn.  I assume this is a Southern thing?

I love all the fresh produce at Aldi!  The selection is limited, but the prices are sometimes totally amazing!  Avocados for $.49, pints of blackberries or raspberries for $1.50, etc.  Plus they have some organic items, love that! 
Fresh fruits and veggies.

This guacamole is so good!  We've had both the spicy and the regular and love both.  And the spicy version is definitely spicy!  You get two pouches in the box. 
Get chips and a box of this guac and you've got the start to a good meal!

Real Parmigiano-Reggiano only comes from Italy, the rest is just called parmesan.  This stuff is authentic! 
Parmiginano Reggiano straight from the old country.

The regular fresh salsa is really tasty, haven't tried any of the other flavors though.
Fresh salsa

Vanilla Greek yogurt is the way to go.  Husband Jeff says the yogurt from Trader Joe's is too runny and prefers this.  Sonny D calls it "malinda yogurt" (is 'vanilla' hard to say?)
Thick Greek yogurt.

Zipper dog chillin' after waiting for me to finish grocery shopping.

Here's a photo of everything I bought at Aldi one day.  Starting on the left and going clockwise:
My haul from a recent trip to Aldi.
  • Heads of romaine lettuce - I used to buy the bags of salad greens, but we go through them so quickly.  They usually only feed Husband Jeff and I for two dinners.  So I switched to the heads of romaine lettuce and I chop it up, spin and wash in the salad spinner, and store it in the fridge in the salad spinner.  Lasts us forever!
  • The orange box is protein bars for snacks for Sonny D (and us!).  These are chocolate-peanut-almond or something like that.  
  • Their croutons are the crunchiest we've ever had!  I buy whatever random flavor appeals to me at the moment.  
  • Husband Jeff says their chianti and red zinfandel are decent.  
  • I'm forever buying French vanilla coffee creamer, we drink it in our coffee and pour it on our oatmeal.
  • We love their unsweetened original almond milk, same ingredients as the Trader Joe's version.  And no carrageenan. 
  • The El Milagro tortilla chips are great, less salt than most brands, extra crunchy, and made from non-GMO corn.  
  • We also buy a lot of fresh produce there, grapes, organic grape tomatoes, avocados, conventional and organic apples, bananas, Cuties clementines, carrots. 
  • Sonny D loves canned mandarin oranges, he calls them "juice oranges" because they come in liquid.  

We tried the Priano roasted garlic and onion spaghetti sauce and Husband Jeff found it bitter, so we tried the pomodoro version.  Much better!  It's your basic red sauce.
Priano pomodoro sauce.

If you like sweet wine, this Moscato is pretty nice.  I wish it were a sparkling moscato though, makes it a bit more refreshing rather than cloyingly sweet.
Pink Moscato wine.

I loved these spicy fried pickles!  I baked them on a rack in the oven and they crisped up pretty good.  We skipped the dill cream sauce and ate them with ranch dressing.  Quite spicy. 
I can't turn down fried pickles. 

We like this Millville Honey Crunch 'n Oats cereal. 
More tasty cereal.

We're not gluten-free, but I recently bought some of the Live GFree pasta and pretzels and were impressed by both of them.  The pasta didn't get mushy and the pretzels are a much cheaper alternative to our absolute favorite pretzels from Glutino.

I don't have photos of it, but we also love the organic grass-fed ground beef, it's much cheaper than the similar product from the local grocery store.

I also completely love the mixed flower bouquet, I've had them last for two weeks with essentially no maintenance (I rarely remember to change the water).

Oh, and I totally love the country-style chicken breakfast sausage.  It's so good and there's only like 5 ingredients (chicken, a couple different spices, salt, sugar.)

Your Favorites

I've started a new habit of asking the checker about their favorite Aldi item.  The first gal I asked said the take-and-bake pizza, which I have read recommendations of online. She also mentioned the frozen ravioli. Husband Jeff likes frozen ravioli so I might have to pick some up.

I would love to hear what you like from Aldi.  Send me an email to share your favorite buys!

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Menu Plan: Week of April 20

Here's a photo log of the past week.
Tuesday I took 9 boxes of stuff to Goodwill. Love getting rid of stuff!
Wednesday we got a load of dirt delivered for our garden beds.
Asparagus growing in our garden, harvested a day later for dinner.
Three bulbs of garlic growing in the garden.
Saturday's Food Camp demonstration about water kefir.
Husband Jeff built Sonny D a balance beam on Sunday morning.
Then Husband Jeff put together his new firepit (birthday gift).
Jeff also built this pair of garden beds on Sunday.

The closer bed is Sonny D's and he's planning to grow carrots and blueberries.  The next bed back is Husband Jeff's, he's going to put in flowers.The far-left bed in the back is my vegetable garden. 

Kefir grains, looks like water crystals.
At the water kefir presentation at Food Camp we were given about 1/2 cup of kefir grains.  The grains are a SCOBY, a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Water kefir grains are used to ferment sugar water and turn it into a probiotic fizzy beverage similar to soda. I didn't take notes at the presentation and I followed a recipe the presenter recommended but hopefully I did everything correctly!  I made a lime kefir water, inside the quart mason jar are a dried apricot (somehow dried fruits help it ferment), 1/4 cup sugar, about 1/3 cup of kefir grains, two limes cut in half, and filtered water.  This primary fermentation creates the probiotics and then there's a second fermentation to create the carbonation.
My lime water kefir right after making it on Monday morning.
My water kefir a little more than 24 hours old. Look at the grain growth!
The water kefir grains seem to be multiplying pretty quickly even though our kitchen is pretty cold.  They are mature grains and hadn't been dehydrated like the ones you buy online because I've read those take a little longer to get going.  I'll let it ferment for two days and then strain out the grains and combine the resulting fermented kefir liquid with some sort of juice and let that ferment a couple more days and then it will be ready to drink.

This Week

  • Monday - We watched our friends' boy who goes to preschool with Sonny D.  The two of them had a great time romping around and playing while I made dinner.  We had Trader Joe's Italian sausages, Syracuse salt potatoes (potatoes boiled in really salty water. try it, so creamy!), and roasted veggies. The veggies included seven spears of asparagus from our own garden.  I also made a creamy cashew-based dip/sauce with chives from our yard, it worked as a great sour cream substitute for the potatoes. 
  • Tuesday - No dinner planned because Sonny D is hanging out with grandma and grandpa while Husband Jeff and I go to Zumba.  I want to try eating the pre-workout foods for the Whole30 detox we start next week, but I might wuss out and stick with my usual two pieces of toast with almond butter.  Next week I'll really have to do it though since we'll be on the detox.
  • Wednesday - Pasta with red sauce since we have a leftover half a jar frozen.  The sauce doesn't fit within the Whole30 restrictions, so we need to eat it now rather than later.
  • Thursday - Husband Jeff's birthday and a family celebration at his cousin's house.  We'll eat whatever they're making, sounds like brats and chicken breasts on the grill. 
  • Friday - pesto pasta with cheese ravioli, corn, and salads. 
  • Saturday - Sonny D's swim lessons again, we haven't discussed what we'll do for lunch afterwards, but it always includes getting ice cream.  We're also going to pull out the tent and try taking a nap in the yard in the afternoon.  If that goes well, we'll also try sleeping out there at night, but this weekend looks rather cold so we might have to wait a while. Dinner will be hot dogs grilled over Husband Jeff's new firepit (birthday gift) and of course we'll toast marshmallows for s'mores. 
  • Sunday - I'm going to a vegetarian Indian cooking class in the afternoon while Sonny D and Husband Jeff go to a birthday party for the boy we watched on Monday evening. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!